Rated PG-13 for profanity, sexuality and coarse humor.
Moore, Carell and Gosling Co-Star in Midlife Crisis Comedy
After 25 years of marriage, Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) is still as smitten with his high school sweetheart as the day they first met. Consequently, when Emily (Julianne Moore) suddenly announces “I want a divorce!” one evening, he’s so stunned by the bombshell that he goes into shock, opens the car door and tumbles out while it’s still moving.
Still, his bruises heal way before his broken heart, since his wife remains resolved to kick him out of the house on account of the steamy affair she’s been enjoying with a colleague (Kevin Bacon). With no choice but to bite the bullet, Cal grudgingly moves into a tiny apartment where he watches helplessly as his once-idyllic life continues to unravel.
For, not only has he lost his wife, but he also soon finds himself alienated from his kids, Robbie (Jonah Bobo) and Molly (Joey King), because he now only gets to see them on weekends during visitation. And he is even being abandoned by guys he thought were his good pals, like Bernie (John Carroll Lynch), who ends their relationship after being henpecked by a spouse who has sided with Emily.
Lonely and depressed, Cal ends up frequenting a singles nightclub where he proceeds to strike out with every woman he approaches. Luckily, his futility is observed from across the crowded bar by a regular, Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling). Out of pity, the suave ladies man takes the terminally nerdy newcomer under his wing, and teaches him how to dress fashionably, what manly drinks to order and how to deliver a pick-up line.
In due time, the makeover magically changes Cal from a wallflower into a womanizer, and perhaps foremost among his many conquests is a flattered schoolteacher (Marisa Tomei) he charms by calling her “the perfect combination of sexy and cute.” Curiously, his transformation is completed just as confirmed bachelor Jacob finally falls in love for the first time in his life with Hannah (Emma Stone), a brainy knockout he’s prepared to build his life around.
Meanwhile, Emily’s relationship with sleazy David has soured, leading her to have second thoughts about dumping Cal. Thus, the question looming over the horizon reads, if she changes her mind about breaking up, will it already be too late to reconcile?
So unfolds Crazy, Stupid, Love, a delightful and deceptively complex, midlife crisis comedy co-directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa. The film features a colorful ensemble embroiled in a hilarious fashion in an array of ill-advised liaisons.
Ryan Gosling shines in a comic outing, which is a bit of a departure for the accomplished dramatic actor. Other standouts include Julianne Moore, Steve Carell, Emma Stone and Marisa Tomei, while Analeigh Tipton makes the most of a support role as a sex-starved, 17-year-old babysitter.
A refreshingly tasteful romantic romp that manages to entertain and illicit lots of laughs without relying on vulgar humor.
Excellent (4 stars).
Running time: 118 Minutes.
Captain America: The First Avenger
Rated PG-13 for intense sci-fi violence.
Latest Marvel Superhero Saves the Day during WWII
This superhero adventure continues the recent trend in comic book screen adaptations in which the protagonist comes to play a critical role in the outcome of a significant historical event. Here, we have Marvel’s Captain America (Chris Evans) called upon to save the day during World War II when a cosmic cube called the Tesseract, said to be a source of limitless power, falls into the hands of Hitler henchman Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving).
That nefarious Nazi also happens to have been left horribly disfigured but with superhuman strength as a result of testing a top-secret serum designed to create a master race of super soldiers on behalf of the Führer. However, Schmidt goes rogue after gaining possession of the Tesseract, morphing into an eviler alter ego, the Red Skull.
The monomaniacal madman proceeds to hatch a diabolical plan for world domination with the help of a horde of renegade German soldiers armed with futuristic death ray guns. We know they have shifted their allegiance from Adolf to the Red Skull because they now chant “Hail Hydra!” instead of “Heil Hitler!”
Meanwhile, clear across the Atlantic Ocean, we find frail Steve Rogers (also Chris Evans), a proverbial 98-pound weakling, desperate to enlist in the military despite suffering from asthma and a host of other assorted ailments. When he’s rejected at a New York City recruitment center for the umpteenth time, the frustrated patriot’s self-pity party is overheard by Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci), a Nazi defector who had created the concoction that had mutated Schmidt.
Now putting his talents to work for the forces of good, Dr. Erskine offers Steve a chance to train in the Strategic Scientific Reserve, an experimental outfit being run by hard-boiled Colonel Chester Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones) and a two-fisted British Officer Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell). Of course, the kid jumps at the opportunity to become the first to test the new and improved super soldier solution.
The injection transforms Steve into quite a physical specimen with an even more muscular physique than his best friend, Sergeant Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan). This development isn’t lost on pretty Peggy who can barely keep her hands off his rock-hard abs.
More importantly, Steve dons a form-fitting red, white and blue costume and an impenetrable shield made of vibranium, the rarest metal on Earth. And accompanied by a crack team of commandos comprised of his pal Bucky, plus Dum Dum Dugan (Neal McDonough), Gabe Jones (Derek Luke), Jacques Dernier (Bruno Ricci), Jim Morita (Kenneth Choi) and James Montgomery Falsworth (J.J. Field), he sets out on a search and destroy mission in quest of the Red Skull and his minions.
Directed by Joe Johnston (Jumanji), Captain America proves to be a riveting roller coaster ride from beginning to end, basically because it relies on a winning recipe featuring all the fixins needed to hold an audience’s undivided attention, from a compelling plot which ratchets up the tension all the way to the final showdown, to eye-popping action and special effects, to a sweet romance between likable leads exhibiting screen chemistry, to lots of unexpected moments of levity (with much of the hilarious comic relief arriving courtesy of Tommy Lee Jones). Just don’t forget to sit through the closing credits for a sneak peek at the sequel, The Avengers, set to be released next year.
The best superhero blockbuster of the summer!
Excellent (4 stars).
Running time: 124 minutes.
OPENING THIS WEEK
Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun
For movies opening July 29, 2011
Attack The Block (R for violence, drug use and pervasive profanity). Horror comedy chronicling the valiant effort of a gang of teenagers from South London to defend their ‘hood during an alien invasion. Starring Nick Frost, Jodie Whittaker, Alex Esmail, John Boyega and Luke Treadaway.
Cowboys & Aliens (PG-13 for violence, brief nudity and a crude reference). Sci-fi adventure set in 1875 in the Wild West where a mysterious gunslinger (Daniel Craig) forms a posse to defend a desolate, desert town after a spaceship starts abducting people one by one. Directed by Jon Favreau and co-starring Harrison Ford, Abigail Spencer, Keith Carradine and Sam Rockwell.
The Smurfs (PG for action and mild rude humor). 3-D animated/live action adventure featuring the arrival of an army of diminutive blue creatures in New York’s Central Park after they are chased through a portal from medieval times to the present by an evil wizard (Hank Azaria). Starring Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Mays with voiceover work by Katy Perry, George Lopez, Fred Armisen, Jeff Foxworthy, Kenan Thompson and Paul Reubens.
All She Can (Unrated). Overcoming-the-odds saga about a high school weightlifter (Corina Calderon) who sees winning an athletic scholarship to the University of Texas as her only ticket out of a godforsaken Texas town. With Julia Vera, Julio Cedillo and Julian Works.
El Bulli: Cooking In Progress (Unrated). Culinary documentary offering a behind-the-scenes peek at the chefs as they prepare the imaginative array of succulent dishes on the menu at El Bulli, the critically-acclaimed gourmet restaurant with a view of the Catalonian seacoast which is slated to close after 50 years despite just being dubbed the best bistro in the world by The New York Times. (In Catalan with subtitles)
The Devil’s Double (Unrated). Chilling biopic about the Iraqi Army lieutenant (Dominic Cooper) forced under the threat of death to serve as a body double for Saddam Hussein’s (Philip Quast) sadistic and sexually-depraved son, Uday (also Dominic Cooper). With Ludivine Sagnier, Jamie Harding and Mem Ferda.
The Future (Unrated). Romance drama about a couple in crisis (Miranda July and Hamish Linklater) who find their relationship further tested when they adopt a stray cat. With David Warshofsky, Isabella Acres and Joe Putterlik.
Golf In The Kingdom (PG for mild epithets). Screen adaptation of Esalen Institute founder Michael Murphy’s semi-autobiographical novel of the same name about a guy headed to an Indian ashram who gets a life-changing lesson in spirituality en route from a guru (David O’Hara) while on the links of a mythical course during a layover in Scotland. With Frances Fisher, Tony Curran and Mason Gamble.
Good Neighbors (Unrated). “State Farm” crime comedy set in the Notre Dame section of Montreal where, during the winter of 1995, a serial killer on the loose has the tenants of an apartment building unsure about whether they can trust each other. Featuring Jay Baruchel, Scott Speedman and Xavier Dolan.
The Guard (Unrated). Unlikely-buddy comedy about a quick-tempered Irish cop (Brendan Gleeson) who teams with a relatively mild-mannered FBI agent (Don Cheadle) to crack an international drug-smuggling ring operating in Galway. With Fionnula Flanagan, Mark Strong and Liam Cunningham. (In English and Gaelic with subtitles)
House Of Boys (Unrated). Homoerotic coming-of-age drama, set in 1984, about a rebellious gay teen (Layke Anderson) who runs away to Amsterdam where he seduces his straight roommate (Benn Northover) into a torrid love affair that takes a tragic turn when he ends up HIV+. Woth Loic Peckels, Harry Ferrier and Sascha Ley. (In English, French, German and Luxembourgish with subtitles.)
Life In A Day (Unrated). Experimental documentary, shot simultaneously by dozens of directors in different locations all over the world, designed to serve as a cinematic time capsule showing what life was like on the planet on July 24, 2010.
Point Blank (Unrated). High body-count thriller about a nurse (Gilles Lellouche) who saves a mobster’s (Roschdy Zem) life in the hospital only to have the hitman’s henchmen kidnap his pregnant wife (Elena Anaya) in order to free their boss. With Gerard Lanvin, Claire Perot and Moussa Maaskri. (In French with subtitles.)